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Pacers final score: Pistons close out Pacers 111-106

Detroit used a 12-1 run to close out Indiana, sweeping the Pacers in Detroit. Malcolm Brogdon led the way with 26 points.

NBA: Indiana Pacers at Detroit Pistons Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

For much of the night, the Indiana Pacers were playing catch up against the Detroit Pistons, so it only made sense that it would be their inability to hold onto a lead that would put them into the loss column tonight. The Pacers led 105-99 with 2:55 remaining after Buddy Hield found Jalen Smith after a Tyrese Haliburton block.

That would prove the last basket of the night for the Pacers, who found themselves in a tie game a minute later on back-to-back threes from Cade Cunningham and Saddiq Bey. Indiana missed their next five attempts, four from three as the Pistons calmly closed the game at the free throw line and a 12-1 run.

The Pacers found themselves down by as many as 15 early in the second quarter as Detroit unleashed holy fire from the three point arc, hitting nine of their first 10 attempts. When they finally stopped falling, the Pacers were able to work themselves back into the game in large part thanks to the three point shooting of Duane Washington Jr., making it a 63-60 game with two minutes remaining.

Three points would prove something of a wall for the Pacers, Detroit doing a solid job keeping Indiana at arms’ length. Out of a timeout midway through the quarter, the Pistons lead had swelled back up to nine, in time for a Terry Taylor putback layup, a Hield technical foul shot, and back-to-back buckets from Malcolm Brogdon and Jalen Smith.

Haliburton gave Indiana their first lead of the second half with a reloaded three pointer, calling a timeout on Detroit’s behalf to wrap up a 10-0 run.

That lead didn’t last long as rebounding quickly became an issue for the Pacers late in the third, allowing three on the next possession as Detroit finally regained the lead. Haliburton flipped the score on a breakaway dunk, only to have the Pistons pull in two more offensive boards to close out the quarter on an Isaiah Livers shot, giving Detroit an 89-88 lead.

Rebounding proved key for both teams throughout the night, but especially in favor of Detroit at this particular junction when Killian Hayes followed up an offensive board with a three pointer to extend the lead out to four. It’s worth noting that through all of this, the Pacers still had a rebounding advantage, one they made something off with a wild offensive board possession of their own to eventually set up Oshae Brissett for a pair of free throws.

Six offensive boards for the Pacers across two possessions allowed them to regain the lead on a 10-1 run, eventually extending the lead out to six down the stretch. At that point, Detroit just executed where Indiana didn’t. The Pacers were especially bad at shooting the three in the fourth, going 1-13 in the quarter.

The final miss was the most gutwrenching, when a great drive by Brogdon down three found a wide open Smith in the corner. The shot was good leaving his hands, causing the Detroit bench preemptive heartbreak, only to bounce out, salvaging the win for the Pistons as the Pacers dropped another game in the clutch.

It was a wild game from a numbers perspective. The Pacers shot 39%, but got off 100 attempts in large part due to pulling in 21 offensive rebounds. That led to 25 second chance points for Indiana, something they used to their advantage in minimizing Detroit’s hot shooting.

Unfortunately for the Pacers, they also allowed 19 offensive rebounds. Detroit converted those into 19 second chance points, all of which seemed to be the single most important points of the night for Detroit. The Pacers also did themselves no favor by continuing to be excruciatingly bad at the free throw line, missing 10 total on an 18-28 night, still outscoring Detroit by six.

Brogdon led all scorers with 26 points, but needed 23 shots to get there. Granted, at least a couple came off his own misses as part of his three offensive rebounds, but it was a night just couldn’t get anyone in any kind of rhythm. Washington was the closest, his four first half threes leading to 16 points, but he didn’t get a look from deep in the second half.

The sections of the game proved to carry unusual weight tonight. Though ball movement wasn’t a big issue for the night (24 assists, right around their season average), it did stick a bit down the stretch. Missing shots didn’t help, but Indiana had just four assists in the fourth, three of those coming courtesy of Hield.

Hield finished with a season high nine. Shooting wasn’t as kind to Hield, however, as he went 1-10 from three point range, finishing with 16 points on 7-20 shooting. Haliburton meanwhile took just eight shots, making three for eight points. An 0fer for Lance Stephenson put a lot of weight on Indiana’s bigs, resulting in a pair of double doubles for Smith and Isaiah Jackson.

Jackson didn’t quite follow up his perfect night, shooting 4-10 for 12 points, including just 4-8 from the line, but he was on the floor tonight. He picked up just three fouls for the game, allowing him to settle into 10 rebounds (six offensive) and four blocks. Smith meanwhile had a nice block of his own, scoring 12 with 11 rebounds (three offensive). Brissett neared a double double of 10 points and eight rebounds (four offensive) while Terry Taylor did his thing, scoring six, including a nice follow up layup on one of his two offensive rebounds.

The loss drops Indiana to 22-43 for the season, three losses off their worst record since 2010. They continue to struggle in close game situations, dropping to 5-16 in games decided by five points or less. They wrap up their four games against teams with a worse record than them with a 1-3 record as the schedule stiffens up a big here in early March.

Indiana will wrap up a four game road trip with a Sunday evening game against the Washington Wizards.